POST-HUMANISM AND ACTOR-NETWORK THEORY: NEW RESEARCH TRENDS ON TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION
The introduction of new technologies at school has significantly modified the educational experience, the relationship between teachers and students, and the daily materiality of school teaching. It is logical therefore that educational research has long been concerned with changes in the use of digital technologies in school contexts.
However, this concern does not always correspond to adequate reflection on the conceptual categories and the cultural and scientific paradigms adopted to interpret the transformations in progress. For example, according to several scholars, including Richard Edwards, Tara Fenwick, Paolo Landri, Estrid Sørensen and Assunta Viteritti, the debate on the introduction and use of technology in school in many cases suffers from the conceptual biases of a human-centered vision. In continuity with the tradition of humanist pedagogy, in fact, the non-human (objects, technologies, virtual environments, etc.) is conceived as distinctly separate from the human, and is thought of as an inert and passive object of knowledge, as an object without agency, or as a mere tool that teachers and students freely employ to reach predetermined goals. Such a framework makes it difficult to focus on the materiality of education and to describe the actual impact of technologies on educational practices.
The paper aims to propose a theoretical reflection on these issues, showing the limits of humanistic and anthropocentric perspectives. In particular, I will focus on a new research trend - arisen from the interplay between post-humanism and Actor-Network Theory (ANT) - to study the complex relationships between human and technology in learning processes. Post-humanism and ANT allow to analyse educational contexts as if they were hybrid networks, heterogeneous assemblages of human and non-human. They focus on the materiality of learning and explore ways that human and non-human materialities combine to produce particular purposes and particular effects in education. Within this theoretical framework, tech objects cease to be docile instruments of education, and become protagonists. Post-humanism and ANT, therefore, modify the pedagogical vocabulary, renew the conceptual categories of education, and address the use of digital technologies at school from a new perspective, still largely unexplored, stimulating and revitalising the debate on education.